By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
From the opening white noise and chimes of Home Is Where You Hang Yourself's title track, you're immersed in a world where stuffed animals sit in smoke-filled rooms, one-eyed bunnies stare into empty shot glasses, and threadbare teddy bears mumble to themselves, all of them just wishing for a hug.
Her Space Holiday is actually one man, the gaunt, bespectacled Marc Bianchi, who makes subdued, candy-coated pop dirges that emphasize atmosphere over hooks. The two-disc collection (one originals, the other remixes of HSH songs and indie luminaries) is at times lush, at times minimal, but Bianchi's delicate, haunting touch remains consistent throughout.
Despite the fact that the majority of the music is electronic in one way or another, HSH traffics in a brand of melancholy that's completely human. The material covers like blankets of sadness with tiny, rare pinpoints of hope shining through; when Bianchi sings, "I know my mom gave me up for a good goddamn reason" on "Through the Eyes of a Child," you can't help but be struck by the intensity of the emotions he's dredging up, despite the soft delivery.
Aside from the album's obvious use as a grim companion on lonely nights, it stands on the merits of its writing, as well. While tracks like "Snake Charmer" are pure moodcrafting, Bianchi tells vivid stories on other songs such as "The Doctor and the DJ," a tale of two forlorn hearts finding each other over a prom dance melody. "Sleeping Pills" is a postrock anthem of depression and self-medication, with Bianchi warmly declaring, "Hallelujah for sleeping pills, and Amen for a good stiff drink," and later, "Hallelujah for long-shot dreams, and Amen for a perfect life. I know that I can't win, so why should I try?"
The collection of low-bpm originals on Home Is Where You Hang Yourself is a masterful merging of oscillating synths, barely audible samples and sporadic breaks complementing the morose imagery. On the remix disc, where the treatment is given to two Her Space Holiday songs, as well as tracks by Bright Eyes, Aspera Ad Astra, Duster and others, Bianchi proves equally intriguing as a mixologist. On Aspera Ad Astra's "Godspeed (freedom fighter's mix)," breaks are thrown behind tinkling pianos and extended organ tones, with a Martin Luther King Jr. sample tossed in during the bridge, a complex collage that's worthy of the dance floor. Bright Eyes' formerly quiet duet "Contrast and Compare" is placed in a butterfly-and-flowers environment via fluttering clarinet notes and high-pitched bells.
How this electronicized pop-rock translates in a live setting is a curious question. If you go to the group's upcoming show, expect to see sequencers, samplers and lots of knobs, or better yet, just close your eyes and count yourself among the other forgotten plush toys.